Give Entrepreneurship a Chance, Young People in Mindanao Urged

Date Published
August 03, 2021
The Youth Entrepreneurship Program, or YEP!, was launched in 2018 and has so far helped around 37,000 young people nationwide. Photo credit: Asian Development Bank

The Philippine government is urging young people in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to become entrepreneurs as it launched a program to develop the entrepreneurship skills of the region’s youth.

In a news release, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP!) was created to empower the youth and give them the confidence to build successful businesses, especially in the digital economy.

In his speech, he said young people “are well-positioned to become the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow” as they are well-versed in technology. “You’re creative and innovative in business. And you’re sharp and smart enough to come up with relevant solutions to the problems challenging our society today. As such, I would dare say that you have these advantages even over the established companies. You have the chance to re-invent and create newer business models such as those used by Google, Facebook, Grab, and Angkas; which were all developed by young people like you.”

The Department of Trade and Industry launched the program in 2018. The program has so far helped around 37,000 young people nationwide. They received skills training and learned about business pitching, joining trade fairs, and preparing business plans. They also received career guidance and mentoring. The program is guided by the 7M-framework for successful entrepreneurship: Mindset, Mastery, Mentoring, Money, Machine, Market Access, and Models of Business.

Lopez urged the youth to take advantage of Industry 4.0 to grow their ventures, noting such technologies could help businesses ride out the pandemic. Industry 4.0, also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, refers to new technologies that fuse the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It includes the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cognitive computing. An Asian Development Bank study said businesses that are skilled in such technologies are likely to recover faster from the pandemic and become more resilient.

‘New order of peace and development’

BARMM Minister of Trade, Investment and Tourism Abu Amri Taddik said giving the youth entrepreneurial skills is vital for the conflict-affected region. “Entrepreneurial skills of the youth in the area of BARMM are needed for them to survive in the new order of peace and development, not by sound of bomb, cannons, and heavy gunfires.”

BARMM covers the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Cotabato City. It is the country’s poorest region.

During the program’s launch, Yusop "Yed" Estrera Dimaporo, CEO and founder of Cotabato-based Yedventures, praised the government and BARMM for promoting entrepreneurship in the region, noting his experience growing up in Maguindanao and living through the conflicts had pushed him to become an entrepreneur.

“As a child, I remember all our things were always packed like a commodity in a fast-food chain. We were always on the go. Even before earthquakes and emergency drills in school, we learned to duck, cover and crawl as shots were fired and mortars exploded next to our home,” he recalled.

Their family eventually left Maguindanao for Cotabato City, where Dimaporo started his first business, Cake Works. He has since set up other businesses, including a bubble tea shop, a skin spa, and recently a catering business, which he started at the height of the pandemic.

“This pandemic is a challenge for us. We need to move forward. We need to help other people. That's why I'm opening up businesses—to help others.”

Trade Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona noted the need to develop the entrepreneurial mindset among young people. “We recognize entrepreneurship as a challenging yet extraordinarily rewarding employment track that uplifts the quality of life. We are firmly affirmative that with young people as business owners, they will likewise have active engagement and concrete contributions to ensure BARMM communities thrive.”

YEP! has the backing of the MSME Development Council, Center for Strategic Reforms of the Philippines, Commission on Higher Education, Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Education, National Wages and Productivity Commission, National Youth Commission, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go! Negosyo, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Trade Training Center, Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Youth Entrepreneurship Academy.